The over-sized mailers that have been jamming our postal deliveries during New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation presidential primary have taken on a life of their own. As I’ve been describing, they’re large, on full-color glossy cardboard stock, and universally paid for by super PACs. And on the Republican side, they’ve usually been attack ads on the rivals, rather than credible support for the candidate in question, without any mention of who might benefit.
If it weren’t for their amusement factor, they’d be embarrassing. Well, sometimes they’re both. And, as a longstanding adage in the advertising business has held, a successful campaign can destroy a bad product. Just look.
In the past few days we’ve had not just one but two from Jeb Bush’s Right to Rise USA super PAC that are truly remarkable even if they demonstrate why he’s evaporating from the picture.
The first, a thick 6-by-9-inch card, features Marco Rubio atop a weather vane. I’m going nuts looking for definition of the publishing technology behind it – not quite a holograph, not quite 3-D, but my wife remembers it from her favorite Cracker Jacks prize – still, it shows the smiling candidate swiveling direction between east and west. I wind up feeling sympathetic for him. The message, “Just another Washington politician we can’t trust,” reminds me of all those years the Bush family was ensconced there – too many of them in the White House.
So this one is a keeper. We might even wish Rubio would sign it.
The second, though, is a printer’s delight.
What arrived as a 6-by-11-inch fat envelope opens up in sections. First comes a montage of portraits of a Muslim cleric next to Hillary Clinton next to Vladimir Putin, all under the banner, THE RISKS ARE TOO GREAT. Nothing subtle there. Except that Hillary might be strong enough to withstand either.
Come on, don’t be so hysterical. Stop playing with fear. Or yanking us around so stupidly. Have some respect.
As you continuing opening this piece, each turn presents a new charge. No matter how much I love paper and printing, this entry manifests what I soon view with gallows humor. You’ve got to be kidding. Four flips later, we wind up with Rubio, Kasich, Bush, Christie, and Trump in a line – all with red Xs except, well, you can guess. The man in the center. Oh yes, and all but Bush are in black-and-white photos, while Jeb, at center, is in full color. As if he thinks his A+ rating from the NRA is going to win votes from parents of schoolchildren. Ah, shoot. And you tell us you’re tough?
By this time, I keep looking at this specimen with true bewilderment. This mailing, a cross measuring 17-by-28 inches fully open, is an elaborate production, requiring a tool-die cutter and wasting about half of the sheet of glossy stock paper. Can’t keep thinking of how much it’s costing. As much as I admire the artistry of the production, I also realize that the previous times I’ve encountered such marketing excesses have been for products I could never afford. In fact, they were rarely directed at consumers, much less me, but rather the retailers or distributors who might carry the line or at decision-makers who might impact the eventual image. Usually, for that matter, as high fashion.
That alone is telling. So these are not really aimed at average-Joe Americans like me. They’re aimed at Bush’s super-rich, super-PAC investors.
We have no idea where these are being printed, either. There’s no USA printers’ union bug, which should be no surprise, so are we to assume they’re being cranked out in Mexico or China or Libya? Highly likely.
But that’s not where this particular mailer ends.
Inside the envelope is a 4-by-4-inch box with a rubber band at the core, where it’s designed to pop out on opening. This box is supposed to be a die, as in a single dice, with each of the other candidates as a wild but unacceptable choice. “Don’t roll the dice” is supposed to be the message.
Except when we opened the package, that didn’t happen. The spring didn’t deploy properly.
All this, from the candidate who spent $2,800 for each vote he received in Iowa. We suspect the figure will be much higher here in New Hampshire come Tuesday.
While we’re at it, since Jeb has so much money to burn – or is that Bern? – we’re wondering what he’s bought in the Super Bowl ad lineup tomorrow. Any predictions?
Or any wonder why he’s tanking?
I, for one, wouldn’t trust him with spending. Not a dime.